40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture (An Ethical To Do List)

20140615_170016

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Last week I blogged about 40 Ethical Culture Gaps to Avoid. This week, I’m sharing a ‘What To Do” list of 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture. This list includes many ways to incorporate ethical values into daily organizational leadership. 

Each one of these 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture can improve an organization. Leaders paying attention to all of these factors will reap rewards that include improved employee engagement, better financial performance, increased productivity and job satisfaction, improved competitive position and more.

Use this “ethical to do list” to assess your culture. Put a check mark beside the positive ethical actions that you have observed in your organization. Any that you leave unchecked are opportunities for improvement.

40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture

  1. ___Avoid Harm To a Wide Variety of Constituents
  2. ___Balance Ethics With Profitability and Results
  3. ___Carefully Build and Protect Trust
  4. ___Choose the Ethical Path, Even if Competitors Aren’t
  5. ___Clarify What “Ethical” Means in the Organization
  6. ___Clear Code of Ethics
  7. ___Clear Messages About Ethics and Values
  8. ___Commitment to Protecting the Planet
  9. ___Consistently Demonstrate Care and Respect for People
  10. ___Decision-Making Carefully Incorporates Ethics
  11. ___Develop Leaders in How To Implement Proactive Ethical Leadership
  12. ___Do Business Sustainably
  13. ___Enforce Ethical Expectations
  14. ___Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility
  15. ___Engaging and Relevant Ethics Training and Messages (Not The Same Old Boring Stuff)
  16. ___Ethical Actions Match Ethical Marketing
  17. ___Frequent Conversations About Ethics (That Honor Work Complexity)
  18. ___Full Accountability for Ethics At Every Level Including the C-Suite
  19. ___High Degree of Transparency
  20. ___Leaders Aware of Increasing Ethical Expectations
  21. ___Leaders Stay Competent as Times Change
  22. ___Open Leadership Communication and Invitation to Participate in Decisions
  23. ___Open, Supportive Leadership
  24. ___Performance Guidelines and Boundaries For Behavior
  25. ___Performance System Fully Integrated With Ethical Expectations
  26. ___Positive Ethical Role Models
  27. ___Recognize and Praise Ethical Actions
  28. ___Recognize and Punish Unethical Actions
  29. ___Safe Space to Discuss Ethical Grey Areas
  30. ___Set Ethical Boundaries
  31. ___Strong Commitment to Improving Leadership and Culture
  32. ___Take Broad Responsibility For Actions
  33. ___Think Long Term About Our Impact
  34. ___Treat Ethics as an Ongoing Priority
  35. ___Treat People With Care
  36. ___Use the Precautionary Principle
  37. ___Use Systems Thinking to See the Big Picture
  38. ___Values Mindset (Not A Compliance Mindset)
  39. ___Welcome and Act on Feedback From Constituents
  40. ___Willing to Do What it Takes to Become an Ethical Organization

When ethical culture is carefully tended, we are poised to meet the increasing expectations of our many stakeholders. Use this checklist of 40 Ways to Build an Ethical Culture to identify your organization’s current strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

 

 

axiombronze

 

 

Linda Fisher Thornton’s Award-Winning Book 7 Lenses Stimulates Powerful Conversations

 

 

 

LeadinginContext.com   Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

©2015 Leading in Context LLC

 

Leader Development 2015: Human Growth Required

By Linda Fisher Thornton

When we want to prepare leaders for success in the trenches of business leadership, we don’t get very far by providing a cushy “spa-like experience.” We can easily focus too much on creating “events” for leader education and miss the much deeper preparation that leaders need.

What prepares leaders to handle their tough everyday challenges? Their success requires much more than knowledge building. It requires rewiring mindsets and developing new capacities. The best way to do that is through experiences that lead to real human growth. Leadership development should stretch leaders and help them develop the capacity to handle bigger challenges. These recent reports describe the need for leaders to stretch into new capabilities:

Josh Bersin, in his Forbes.com article “Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities Now a Priority” says that “Global leadership gaps continue to be the most pressing issues on the minds of business and HR leaders.” 

Nick Petrie of the Center For Creative Leadership notes that “This is no longer just a leadership challenge (what good leadership looks like); it is a development challenge (the process of how to grow “bigger” minds). (Future Trends in Leadership Development, CCL.org)

The Wall Street Journal article “How to Develop Future Leaders” says that “Stretch assignments are growth-oriented exercises with some inherent risk. They’re designed to push participants past their skill level.”

“Leadership today is more than what you know. It requires the ability to adapt and respond to different circumstances and to connect with different kinds of employees, including employees of different ages and different cultural backgrounds” according to HBR Publishing “What the Future Demands: The Growing Challenge of Global Leadership Development” by Mercer and Oliver Wyman.

We are preparing leaders to handle a high degree of complexity and we need for them to consistently make ethical choices. At its best, leadership development is not an “event.” It’s a capacity-building endeavor. It’s a process of human growth and development.

Leaders must become capable of imagining more, doing and being more, and enabling others to accomplish more in challenging times. Only human growth will get them there.

Recent Leading in Context Honors:

CEO Linda Fisher Thornton in Global CEO’s TOP 100 CSR LEADERS and on Jeff Haden’s Inc. list of “100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference” 

7 Lenses won an Axiom Business Book Award and Achieved a Top 100 Best Seller Rank in the “Ethics” category in the Kindle Store (June, 2014)

7 Lenses Used by Major U.S. Universities To Teach Leadership, Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility

Over 80 Media Mentions in 2014 Including BBC-Capital and The Globe and Mail

And the greatest honor of all – Followers and Friends From 182 Countries (WordPress year-end report 12/31/14)

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                  

FisherThorntonLinda_07_What_Is_Ethical_Leadership-522
 
 
@leadingincontxt  @7Lenses
LeadinginContext.com
 
 
  7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
  2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
  About 7 Lenses
 
 
©2014 Leading in Context LLC

5 Powerful Trends in Ethical Consumerism

20131120_112448By Linda Fisher Thornton

Customers are not separate from businesses any more – they are becoming part of the fabric of organizations in ways that meet their very specific needs. This week I describe 5 powerful trends in ethical consumerism that are changing the rules of business. To keep up with these trends, leaders will need a heightened level of ethical awareness and the ability to think ethically on many levels.

1. Customers want companies to build ethics into their brands.

 “In the pursuit of the nirvana that is GUILT-FREE CONSUMPTION, consumers are looking for brands to make SACRIFICES (so they don’t have to).”

Trendwatching.com Report Brand Sacrifice, October 2014

2. Customers are increasingly involved in brand marketing and promotion.

“Your consumer is your marketer.” 

PBS Frontline, Generation Like

3. Customers expect companies to care not just about their well-being, but also about society and the planet.

“Growing numbers of consumers can no longer escape an awareness of the damage done by their consumption: to the planet, society, or themselves.”

7 Consumer Trends to Run With in 2014, Trendwatching,com

 

4. Customers don’t want to be “talked at.” They want a deeper connection. Empathy is what customers crave.

“In 2014 we’ll hear more executives talk about the need to build empathy for customers…”

Bruce Temkin, Temkin Group, 14 Customer Experience Trends For Marketing 2014 at dmnnews.com

 

5. Customers are increasingly focused on health and well-being and seek companies and products that care.

“Many are aware that healthy eating can improve quality of life and extend longevity. Also, many are discovering food sensitivities and are looking to purchase “free from” products.”

The Top 10 Global Consumer Trends For 2014, Euromonitor International

 

These are powerful consumer trends that will drive business success in 2015 and beyond. This is the terrain of business leadership future, and it requires heightened ethical awareness and proactive ethical leadership. Get ready for business conversations that integrate ethics into all aspects of product development, customer service, marketing and leadership.

Business is changing. Let us know how Leading in Context can help you prepare. Info@LeadinginContext.com
 

7LensesStanding

 

“thought-provoking”       “fresh”         “powerful”        “relevant”

Bring proactive ethical leadership to life with the 7 Lenses™ book and Workshops

 

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™                                                                                                 LeadinginContext.com

©2014 Leading in Context LLC

What is Integrity? Beyond “I’ll Know It When I See It”

20140821_143302By Linda Fisher Thornton

During the recent 2014 NeuroLeadership Summit, Jamil Zaki (an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanford) talked about an interesting experiment the Stanford Neuroscience Lab did. The team took a large number of Fortune 100 statements of company values and generated a word cloud from them to see which word would appear most often. Which word was it? Integrity was the most frequently used word. This experiment reveals a general agreement that integrity is important, but what exactly does it mean? People may understand it in very different ways.

The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete.[3] In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

Wikipedia, Definition of Integrity

Following this definition, integrity is the alignment of our thoughts, actions and words with our personal values.  The tricky thing about integrity in organizations is that integrity is partly internal (what we think) and partly external (what we say and do).

When we demonstrate integrity, what we think, say and do are all aligned. But aligned with what?

I think that something that many organizations include in the concept of “integrity” is good moral character. People with good character would be morally aware and ethically competent. This leads me to ask some important questions:

Do your leaders know which values you want them to act on when they “Use the highest integrity in all that they do?”

Do they know what those values look like?

Do they know how to honor them while balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders?

Without clarity about the ethical values we should honor in our work, integrity is individually interpreted, based on the personal values of each leader. To help them lead ethically at a high level, though, we need to answer a deeper question  – “Which ethical values should we uphold in what we think, say and do?”

Are your leaders crystal clear about which ethical values are most important to your organization?

If your leaders are all perfectly clear about which high level ethical values to uphold and how to demonstrate them, you are probably incorporating complexity into your leadership development. You are also probably providing leaders with the level of detail about ethical values that they need to navigate through information overload, constant change and demands from multiple stakeholders. If not, you may be rolling the dice by taking an “I’ll know it when I see it” approach to ethics.

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for weekly posts that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

522

 

For more, see 7 Lenses  and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

3 Factors That Numb Ethics Efforts (And 3 That Energize Them)

2013-08-06 18.38.33

By Linda Fisher Thornton

To build a strong ethical culture, leaders should take a positive, preventive approach to ethics. That would include communicating clear ethical values and expectations and quickly stopping any unethical behavior. But those things are not enough by themselves. There are cultural factors that either enable our prevention efforts or disable them. Understanding these factors helps us build an ethical culture. Here are three enabling factors (that support proactive ethics) and three numbing factors (that disable our proactive ethics efforts).

Numbing Factors

Numbing factors act as an ethical dampening field, disabling the natural systems that would prevent and identify ethical risks. The presence of any of these factors numbs people to proactive ethics, and makes it harder for people to want to protect the organization’s ethical reputation.

NUMBING FACTORS 

Ethical Incompetence 

Lack of Trust

Fear (Often Generated By Leaders Using Negative Interpersonal Behaviors)

Enabling Factors

Enabling factors act as ethical boosters, fueling the natural systems that prevent  and identify ethical risks. The presence of any of them boosts the organization toward proactive ethics, and makes it easier to prevent ethical problems from happening.

ENABLING FACTORS 

Proactive Values-Based Leadership

Trust-Building (Including Showing Respect and Care)

“Safe Space” to Talk About Ethical Issues

Which Way is Your Organization Headed?

By cultivating enabling factors, you are setting the stage for the team to work together, actively protecting the organization’s ethics. If you have numbing factors within your organization, be aware that the dampening field that they create will reduce the effectiveness of your positive ethics efforts. 

“Ethical culture” is a complex system. To support the health of the system, maximize enabling factors and eliminate numbing factors.

 

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for weekly posts that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™

522

For more, see 7 Lenses  and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Trust-Building Requires Trust-Giving

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Good leaders intentionally build trust. They build it through everyday words and actions. They build it by demonstrating that they can be trusted. They also build it when they extend trust to others. Some leaders wait for people to prove themselves before they trust them, but trust is reciprocal.

 Trust-building requires trust-giving. 

Are you reaching out? Or are you waiting for your employees to have a “perfect” record before trusting them? Today I am sharing a fictional letter from an employee who doesn’t feel trusted by her manager. As you read this “Dear Manager” letter, see if you can empathize with the employee who doesn’t feel that she is being trusted enough.

Dear Manager Letter

We are the beacons of trust in our organizations. If we want to create productive high-trust workplaces, we must start with ourselves, remembering that what we do, others will follow. The longer we wait to trust, the longer we’ll have to wait to be trusted in return.

 

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for weekly posts that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

522

For more, see 7 Lenses (foreword by Stephen M. R. Covey) and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Leading For Ethics Future? (Or Ethics Past?)

Ethical Leadership FutureBy Linda Fisher Thornton

We are expected to make ethical decisions in a rapidly changing global society, where there is increasing awareness of what “ethical” means. The question of where ethics is headed has been the focus of my research over the last four years.

I have learned that to be considered ethical, we must consider more constituents, honor more dimensions of ethics, and lead ethically through higher levels of complexity. How do we prepare for that? We reach higher and think longer-term.

Aim Higher and Farther Ahead

Strategies that may have worked in ethics five years ago will not help us now. To succeed, we need to broaden our worldview and expand the scope of what we consider to be “ethical territory.”  

We need to aim higher than legal requirements, in the direction that ethical expectations are moving, so that we can avoid falling behind. 

To keep up with rapid change, we need to aim higher and farther ahead.

When we aim higher, we reach for ethics of care, respect and inclusion, sustainable business and corporate social responsibility.

It is easiest to stick to “what has always worked,” but organizations that are doing well in ethics are intentionally adapting to the future as it unfolds. They are staying ethically competent through a commitment to continual (individual and organizational) learning.

Learn Faster Than the Pace of Change

We aren’t going to stay on top of changes in ethical expectations by just doing what we’ve always done. Keeping up requires constant vigilance.

Some people are still leading using the ethics of yesteryear. And that has consequences.

We can discuss and learn from the many ethical issues in the news. We can put preventive measures in place to be sure the mistakes of others don’t happen in our organizations. But we will need more than just negative examples to succeed.

The scope of what is considered “ethical territory” is broadening, so we need to advance our ethical competence faster than the pace of change. Let me repeat that – faster than the pace of change. 

We can never stop learning. We may become unethical just by doing “what we’ve always done” as the world changes.

When we stop learning, we may quickly become unethical by not changing as the world changes around us. Are we just working on our individual ethics (moral awareness, character and integrity), but not paying attention to interpersonal and societal ethics (respect, inclusion and care, service in communities, sustainability and the greater good)? Ethics is not a simple one-dimensional challenge, so to be ethically competent, we must stretch and learn every day.  

Successful ethical leaders are proactive about ethics and adapt to changing ethical expectations. They aim for ethics future, not ethics past.

Want to learn more?

Please join me, @leadingincontxt, as I guest host the #LeadWithGiants Tweetchat with @DanVForbes on Monday, September 8th at 7:00 pm EDT on the topic of Ethical Leadership.

Follow the Leading in Context Blog for more articles that help you Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership™ 

522

For more, see the new guide book to ethical leadership future called 7 Lenses and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

“Hearing” All Stakeholders (Even When They’re Not in the Room)?

Silent Stakeholders

By Linda Fisher Thornton

A quiet group of stakeholders is being considered in leadership conversations. They can’t weigh in on major decisions, but they have a lot at stake in the decisions that get made. They are silent stakeholders, and the decisions we make in our meetings every day affects them directly.

These silent stakeholders include consumers who expect to have their interests and their safety protected. They are current and future employees who want to work for ethical companies that care.  They are communities and ecosystems that need protecting to ensure our healthy and successful future. Are we considering their needs when they aren’t in the room? Are we hearing them?

Ethical leadership includes proactively doing good and preventing harm. Our responsibility to do that extends to silent stakeholders – people who can’t speak up in protest when we’re about to make a bad decision that affects them.

Business leaders are increasingly expected to demonstrate care for stakeholders who are not in the room. 

With so many ethical scandals in the news, consumers have become quite aware of risks. They are more actively protecting their interests, even though they are not invited into the closed meetings where decisions that affect their health and safety are made.

Considering Our Impact on Silent Stakeholders

Leaders who think long-term and seek to minimize harm broadly consider all stakeholders, including those who are not in the room.

At our best, we demonstrate care for all constituents, all the way up and down the line.

As you consider these questions, keep in mind that ethical leaders recognize and honor their responsibilities to all constituents, including those who are not in the room.

  • What will be the effect of this decision on the end user?
  • What will be the long-term impact of this decision on the environment, communities and ecosystems?
  • How will those who cannot speak for themselves (but need our care) be affected by this decision?

 

522

 

For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Is Your Leadership Net Positive?

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Generating an intentional positive ethical impact is the successful ethical leadership of the future, and it’s already here. The Forum For the Future describes it as net positive leadership – making a positive contribution to society and leaving things better than we found them. This commitment represents a higher level of ethical leadership than just preventing harm – we are preventing harm and adding value.

“The ambition of business has to change. From doing less harm to becoming net positive.”

Net Positive: A new way of doing business, A Report by the Forum For the Future, World Wildlife Fund and The Climate Group.

The net positive leadership concept is a natural extension of our changing awareness of the purpose of leadership. In the recently published book 7 Lenses, I describe how our understanding of the purpose of leadership has evolved over time from transactions to service and more recently to the greater good.

Fully-honoring-the (1)

In The Guardian article “Can a business really be net positive, and if so, how do we judge success?” Oliver Balch writes that “Any movement needs its champions, and net positive boasts a coterie of early cheerleaders, including Kingfisher and IkeaCoca-ColaRio Tintoand BT (on carbon).” As business leaders embrace the net positive movement, Oliver explains, they may discover that it is difficult to tackle becoming net positive in every aspect of the business at once – leaders in the net positive movement start with one area that is pivotal to their brand. 

There is the danger that some companies will promote their net positive progress in one area of the business while causing harm in other areas. As explained by Steve Downing in “How net positive could turn out to be net negative” “practitioners of net positive should confront the negatives in their policies and make them part of their story.” 

An ethics award and an ethics violation don’t net out to equal good ethics. One area of positive impact and one area of harm do not add up to net positive business.

“Net Positive” gives us new terminology for understanding the positive impact of our leadership. While it will be challenging to implement, it provides us with a stretch goal that will make our leadership more impactful. 

There is a very human side to the net positive equation that includes enhancing people’s lives and helping them grow. Take a moment to think about your daily leadership. Would the people and groups you lead describe it as “Net Positive?”

 

522 For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do

20140323_172748By Linda Fisher Thornton

Trustworthy leaders know how to create a workplace where everyone is valued, where leadership is sincere and respectful, and where great work can get done. How do they do it? What is it in particular that trustworthy leaders do?

These 10 things are on my list of the things trustworthy leaders do. What else would you add?

What Do Trustworthy Leaders Do?

  1. Lead With Positive Values (In Every Situation)
  2. Acknowledge Complexity (And Help People Deal With It)
  3. Demonstrate and Expect Respectful Behavior (Even When It’s a Challenge)
  4. Know Their Own Mindsets and Assumptions (And Be Willing to Change Them)
  5. Show People They Care (In Big and Small Ways)
  6. Think Long Term (Always Doing What’s Most Ethical in the Long Run)
  7. Extend an Open Invitation to Talk (About Ethics, About Bad News, About Good News)
  8. Show They Care (About People and the Success of the Group)
  9. Communicate Clear Ethical Values (And Live Them Every Day)
  10. Contribute to the Well-Being of Those They Lead (Including Reducing Stress)

Trustworthy leaders also regularly weed out negative behaviors that erode the trust within the group. This careful tending lets the trust they plant and the groups they lead flourish. Your challenge? See how many of these “10 Things Trustworthy Leaders Do” you can do today.

 

522

For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Ethics and Trust are Reciprocal

20140323_173426By Linda Fisher Thornton

I was asked recently to explain in simple terms how ethics and trust are related. It is a great question, because we define trust and ethics in so many different ways.

Here are some observations about how trust and ethics are related, and what their relationship means for us as organizational leaders.

What is the Relationship Between Ethics and Trust?

Proactive ethics is part of what it takes to build trust.

Building trust is part of what is required to maintain good ethics.

Ethical behavior and choices help build trust.

High trust environments encourage better ethics.

When trust is lost, people are less likely to uphold the organization’s ethics.

When ethics is absent, trust is elusive.

The Positive Balance

What does all of this mean to us as leaders? It means that ethics and trust are reciprocal and mutually reinforcing. Improving one improves the other. Damaging one damages the other.

Ethics and trust are reciprocal. They are mutually reinforcing. 

If we lead in ways that are trustworthy, we are fulfilling an important part of our responsibility as ethical leaders. When it comes to leading ethically, trust is not a nice-to-have,  it’s a “must have.” If we lead ethically, that lets people know they can count on us, and being able to count on us builds trust with individuals and within the group.

Ethics and trust are inseparable. They travel together.

Trust and ethics travel together, as if tethered with a bungee cord. One will not travel far without pulling the other with it. For example, if I intentionally improve my ethics, that will also begin to improve trust. If I work on improving trust, that will also increase the chances that my team is watching out for ethics and would alert me if something happened that would put us as risk.

Exercising Ethics and Trust 

Ethics and trust act in tandem. Think of them as the respiratory system and heart of the organization. If one fails, the other follows. Keeping them in good shape requires constant attention and daily practice.

Ethics and trust are improved through intentional practice. 

The good news is that just as the human respiratory system and the heart are improved through exercise, organizational ethics and trust can be strengthened through intentional daily practice.

 

522

For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

10 Forces Fueling the Values-Based Leadership Movement

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I believe that values-based leadership is gaining momentum. Recently I was asked to explain why I think so, and I thought I would share my answer in today’s blog post. Here are a number of trends that I see that are working together to fuel the movement toward leading with positive values.

Values-based leadership is gaining momentum, and it’s fueled by a convergence of positive trends.

These forces are coming from various directions and perspectives, all leading toward positive, proactive values-based leadership. See if you recognize any of them, and feel free to comment with your additions to the list.

 

ValuesBased Leadership TrendsFINALCrop

 

How do forward-thinking leaders define “doing well?” They don’t define it as simply reaching financial projections and avoiding lawsuits.  They define it as always leading with values. They define success in terms of mutual benefit – creating shared value for multiple stakeholders and making a positive difference. 

 

522

For more, see 7 Lenses  and the related 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

Ethics Isn’t Finite: It’s Evolving

2013-07-05 20.36.26By Linda Fisher Thornton

As we strive to build ethical organizations, we must remember that our target is moving. As the world changes, ethical expectations change.

It would be easier to develop ethical leaders and build ethical organizations if ethics were a fixed destination. A point on the map. A line in the sand. But it’s just not that simple.

Ethical expectations are evolving.

As we learn more about the impact of our choices on others, society and the environment, ethical expectations are increasing. The changes reflect a better understanding of how we need to live on this planet we call home in ways that are sustainable in the long run.

Some leaders still mistakenly think about ethics in terms of short-term gains and losses, but the trend is toward thinking broadly and long-term about our choices.

Keeping up with evolving ethical expectations is a challenge that ethical organizations take on. They seek out information about consumer expectations and trends. They embrace meeting changing expectations as part of their leadership responsibility. They always want to know how they can improve.

The trend is toward thinking broadly and long-term about our choices.

Responding to evolving expectations helps organizations stay competitive. It helps them engage employees who want to make a difference. It helps them be ready for success in the future world of business. Because our understanding of ethics is always evolving, we must aim for where it’s headed, not where it’s been.

522

For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

Can a Toxic Leader Be Ethical? Yes and No.

Can a Toxic Leader Be Ethical?By Linda Fisher Thornton

A Leading in Context Blog reader requested that I address the question of whether or not someone who uses negative interpersonal behaviors can be thought of as an ethical leader.

Toxic leadership is gaining attention as we learn more about the harm that negative behaviors cause in the workplace. What kinds of behaviors could be considered toxic? I blogged about the problem in a previous post called Leadership and…The Cascade Stress Effect:

“If we use fear-based leadership, bullying, command-and-control leadership, belittling, sabotage or other forms of psychological violence, or allow them to be used by others in our organizations, we create the opposite of a supportive, productive learning organization. We create an environment of toxic stress that harms people and the organization.”

“Controlling leadership behaviors set off a cascade effect in organizations that looks like this:

  • We create a toxic, constantly stressful environment
  • which reduces people’s ability to learn and remember
  • and think creatively.
  • We get fear-based compliance
  • without engagement
  • which leaves people not doing their best work.
  • We get a low-trust culture
  • which leads to
  • people spending time worrying
  • individually and in groups.
  • We get poor individual
  • and group performance
  • and poor business outcomes.
  • We reduce the capacity of the business
  • to accomplish its mission
  • through people.”

Leadership and the Cascade Stress Effect, Linda Fisher Thornton, Leading in Context Blog, June 2011

“Can someone who uses toxic leadership still be an ethical leader?”The answer to this important question is “yes and no.”

Yes

Yes, they can be an ethical leader in some of the dimensions of ethical leadership. Toxic leaders may be model citizens when it comes to ethically protecting the financial future of the company (or other areas of their ethical responsibility). They may show concern for the environment, or be active in community service. They may look in some ways like an ethical leader.

No

No, they are not an ethical leader, because regardless of how ethical they are in some areas of their leadership, leaders who use unethical interpersonal behaviors are not ethical interpersonally. 

Ethical leadership requires that we honor many different aspects of ethics, including demonstrating respect for others and creating a high trust work environment where people are valued and can do their best work. We must honor individual, interpersonal and societal ethics.

Since toxic leaders fail to honor interpersonal ethics, no matter how ethical they are in other areas of responsibility, they are not ethical leaders.

We can no longer evaluate a person’s leadership solely on results while ignoring the negative ripple effect created by interpersonal behavior choices. It’s time to see toxic leadership for what it really is – stress creating, inappropriate, negative, unethical leadership.

522

For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 
 

 

5 Leadership Development Priorities

5 Leadership Development Priorities

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The recent post “It’s Not About Us” set a new daily record for the most views on the Leading in Context Blog. It described how our understanding of leadership has moved beyond a focus on the leader to a focus on creating shared value for others.

 

In a human development sense, our understanding of leadership has essentially “grown up” and moved past personal ego and a self-centered view of things.

This week, I want to share how the trends in our understanding of leadership are changing the fiber of what successful leadership looks like in organizations. If our organizations are not yet ready to respond to them, these trends should become our top priorities for leadership development.

5 Leadership Development Priorities

 

1.  Progressing from compliance-based ethics to values-based ethics.

TEACHING THE BEHAVIORS  WE WANT, NOT THE ONES THAT WILL BE PUNISHED

 

2.  Getting comfortable with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (V.U.C.A.).

PRACTICING WITH COMPLEX PROBLEMS IN REAL TIME USING V.U.C.A. STRATEGIES

 

3.  Thinking like global citizens in a world of connecting systems.

MANAGING ETHICS UP AND DOWN THE SUPPLY CHAIN, UNDERSTANDING SYSTEMS, APPLYING THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AND THINKING LONG TERM

 

4.  Embracing the responsibilities that come with leadership.

GOING BEYOND THE TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE, HONORING SEVEN DIMENSIONS OF ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY

 

5.  Embracing the opportunities that come with leadership.

CHANGING LIVES, IMPROVING COMMUNITIES,MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD

 

While these 5 leadership development priorities may seem challenging, the good news is that by addressing them proactively we will also be enabling the overall success of our organizations.

Leading with values and taking responsibility broadly helps us adapt

The clarity we find in leading with positive values makes decision-making easier, and helps us adapt to the rising expectations in a global marketplace. We are no longer buffeted by every small change in the law, because we are aiming at a much higher level, the level of human values.

 

522

For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,573 other followers

%d bloggers like this: